The truth will make you free

Our words, true or false, hold power and make a difference…

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

The truth will out. Shakespeare (Hamlet)

The truth will make you free (John 8:32)

The intersection of these two phrases is the word truth.

In most of our interactions and conversations, “truth” has become, at best, situational.

I see things as I see them. And you see things as you see them.

Most of the time, it is not terribly consequential. Our views and tastes differ and converge depending on the topic, and perhaps the vagaries of our relationship.

You could make the argument that we usually act on what we believe. And what we believe congeals and reveals itself in our actions and behavior, and expresses, more than anything else what is of value to us.

What we saw in our nation’s capital on January 6th, was, above all, an expression – if not collision – of beliefs.

A surging crowd literally assaulted the foundational structures and institutions of our identity, our history and our nation.

And they did so freely – not impeded by security forces or even respect for the solemnity of the institutions they were literally tearing apart.

They acted as if they were protected, if not inspired, by larger forces, immune from prosecution or restraint.

And for the most part, they were.

But they weren’t inspired by, or informed by the truth.

The Bible tells us that “The truth will make you free” (John 8:32)

Please bear with a little review of the concept of “truth”.

It is a concept we encounter so rarely that we need a refresher course on what it even is.

First, “truth” is not opinion. It is not how one feels about something, or if one likes or does not “like” or agree with something.

Real truth is solid and firm, not-very-negotiable and rarely subject to change. And truth will not, as Shakespeare put it, stay covered indefinitely.

Truth is related to the word “integrity” which comes from the word “integer” – the word for a whole number – not a fraction or partial number. A whole, not fragments.

We may not always like, or welcome the truth, but it is real – and it will prevail.

And it will make us whole. And solid.

The word “whole” by the way is related to the word “holy” and “hale” (an ancient word related to the word “health”).

Our mental and physical health is reflected in our relationship to “truth”.

Our social contracts are based on assumptions of, and delineations of “truth”.

What we saw on January 6th was a free-form cavalier abandonment of truth.

Everything about that gathering, though earnest and brimming with banners and slogans (and a few weapons and bombs – even a few with zip-ties to be used as handcuffs for taking hostages) was also surging with something else; rage and confusion.

The “truth” as the Bible tells us, informs, fills, inspires and assures us. It gives us a foundation that is solid and reliable.

This is the opposite of what we saw January 6th.

We saw on that dreadful day something we rarely see in our individual lives or even in human history; we saw the full force of lies and deception gathered together and expressed in a miasma of near-pure inchoate brutality against anyone or any thing.

There was no purpose to be achieved, no argument made. No eloquent speeches, no memorable quotes – it was a pure, near-primaeval bashing against order.

It is rare in human events for a reason; it is toxic, exhausting and deliberately destructive.

Mere human flesh, even human institutions, cannot bear much rage of this caliber.

Like “truth”, deception will also “out”.

Lies and deception, like truth, will not stay hidden long.

Political processes, as slow and stodgy as they often are, are that way for a reason – the legal and political process is deliberative and plods along at an unrelenting, often-frustrating pace.

Rage, revenge and deception have no place in a fair and honest political or legal system. Or business.

On January 6th, no decision was to be made in Congress. The decision had been made weeks, even months before.

Congress was not deliberating, the vice president had no active role, the decision had been made by voters and certified by the states, as the Constitution specified.

The political process that day was purely ceremonial. There was no forum for discussion, no decision to be made.

The events of January 6th, we must remember, took place shortly after two attempts to kidnap and murder two of America’s governors.

The stakes were high, even as the reliance on truth was low.

In a week when national COVID deaths surpassed 4,000 (!) on a daily basis, this event in Washington, DC was a super-spreader event for the two major toxic contagions of our times – COVID and deception.

Both forces will be, and have already proven themselves to be, relentless.

And if you think truth and integrity is my bias, first of all, you’re right, and second, I’m not alone.

Forbes magazine has a recent article with lies and liars as its focus, and includes this statement: Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.

This article closes with a reminder that there is nothing partisan about this. No party has a monopoly on truth – or deception.

Some of us are old enough to remember a time when, if caught in a lie, public figures would be chastened, would apologize or even be forced to resign.

But now politicians (and others) “double-down” and stand by and repeat easily-refutable lies.

We have abandoned decency and integrity – and it is our loss – and any further deception is a luxury we cannot afford.

A saying from World War II is “Loose lips sink ships.”

Our words, true or false, hold power and make a difference. Lies damage our careers, our industries, our communities and, as we have seen recently, the state of our nation.

Words, after all are never just words. Words inspire action, and actions, even more than words, define us.

We’ve all seen on our nightly news the manifestation of what Voltaire (1694–1778) warned us about a couple centuries ago; “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”